The Lab School @ Punahou Engages Educators

July 20, 2012

More than 180 educators from around the world gathered on campus for the Lab School @ Punahou, eager to explore new technology and connect with fellow teachers in their shared pursuit of educational excellence.

The professional development program affiliated with Punahou’s Institute for Teaching, Learning and Instructional Innovation engages teachers in hands-on workshops, active classroom observations and thought-provoking discussions. This year’s session was held July 2 – 13, 2012, attracting participants and presenters from 51 schools as far-flung as Baltimore, Bali and Beijing.


Keynote speakers, whose talks were free and open to the public, included Tom Daccord, director of; Ted Lai and David Millage, education development executives at Apple, Inc.; Punahou Curriculum Resource Teacher Douglas Kiang ’87; Hillary Freeman, a middle-school science teacher at The Nueva School in Hillsborough, Calif.; and Josh Reppun ’76, who teaches history at ‘Iolani School.

The program’s structure allows participants to delve deeply into areas of interest, with cohort leaders from diverse public or independent schools in Hawai‘i. Participants in this year’s 11 cohorts explored topics such as “Curated Learning: The Classroom as a Learning Museum,” “Developing Critical Math Thinkers,” “The Flipped Classroom,” “Teaching and Learning with iPads,” “Rethink Your Curriculum: Design Thinking for the Classroom” and “Media Literacy: Ethics and Decision-Makers.”

Marilyn Rogers, a special-education teacher at Honolulu’s Stevenson Intermediate School, enrolled in the “Sustainable Schools: Desktop Aquaponics” cohort, seeking to expand the activity-based approach she already uses with her students, who have special needs such as autism and require personalized teaching and care.

“We learn hands-on; that engages students the most. We put in a garden on a little patch of land at school and we grow all sorts of things. My students love it. Now I can add hydroponics and aquaponics to the science content,” said Rogers, noting that each member of the cohort took home a desktop aquaponics kit and other resources.

Danette Kobayashi, who teaches fourth grade at Punahou, also participated in the aquaponics cohort, and looks forward to leading her students in a comparative study this fall of lettuce grown three different ways: in regular soil, in a hydroponic system (with water as the growing medium) and in an aquaponic system (in which fish and plants grow together in a soil-free system).

For Kobayashi, a highlight was “getting to know teachers from many different schools and hearing their perspectives, which causes me to expand my own perspective.”

Participants were encouraged to collaborate throughout the program, both within their cohorts, in sessions open to everyone and online via dedicated social networks. Whether comparing favorite apps during the “iPad Apps Smackdown,” learning how to use an interactive whiteboard, debating the merits of the educational social network, or exploring what motivates students and how to harness technology to enhance learning, teachers made the most of their time at the Lab School.

“It’s a good balance of theory and practice,” said Terri Stewart, who teaches grades 6 – 8 social studies at St. Anthony Catholic School in Kailua and was attending Lab School for the second time. “I find that these two weeks get me looking forward to the new school year. … I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned. It’s a great way to approach every new school year with fresh ideas.”

Colleague Marcia Braden, who teaches grades 6 – 8 science at St. Anthony and is a three-time Lab School participant, agreed: “The more we meet with other teachers, the better all of our schools are going to be.”


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